Dating doesn’t end with “I do.”
In a marriage, there are many things that are competing for your attention. Bills, kids, projects, deadlines, school, laundry, dinner, groceries, birthday parties, or even the in-laws. While these things are necessary and important parts of a marriage, a marriage needs much more than paid bills and kids to thrive. The goal of our marriage isn’t just to stay married, it’s to have a marriage that is filled with joy.
And a joy-filled marriage comes in the pursuit of one another and in knowing that God is in pursuit of us.
For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. (ESV) - Ephesians 5:23-27
Notice what happens here. Christ pursues the Church. Christ sacrifices. Christ gives of himself. Christ loves. And this verse from Ephesians calls men to the same thing - love your wives, sacrifice for your wives, pursue your wives.
Christ calls men to do for their wives what has been done for them. And it might even be suggested that by God’s pursuit of you, he has freed you to not focus on scoring spiritual points with God but instead focus on the hard work of fulfilling your calling as you love and pursue your spouse.
Dating is an opportunity for pursuit that shouldn’t disappear after the wedding vows. It will certainly look different, but it shouldn't end. Because even after the vows are spoken, the relationship doesn’t stop growing.
And when there are so many different areas of our life that are seeking our time and attention, the question becomes, “Which area of your life will become the priority?"
“Daily you make decisions to give up one thing in order to gain something else. This is especially true within the arena of your schedule. You face a variety of responsibilities and opportunities: work … family … hobbies … clubs … leagues … the list is endless. Each competes for your attention. Each competes for your most valuable resource, your time. But to give each of these the time it demands or deserves would require more time than you have.” - Andy Stanley
Maybe it’s time to start dating again.
As life happens in marriage, dating is easy to get bumped down the list. Our kids take priority. Our bills have to get paid. The jobs need to get done on time. And while it is easy to bump dating off the list, it is probably the last thing that should be moved down the list. Because even when we struggle to pay the bills, a healthy marriage gets us through those difficult days. And even if our career is miserable, a happy marriage makes it do-able. And while our kids are certainly a priority, the best gift we can ever give to our kids is a healthy marriage and a healthy home to grow up in.
Everyday you are going to have to make decisions about what to give up and what to pursue. Choose your family. Choose your spouse.